court, P&ID

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Thursday ordered the forfeiture of assets belonging to Process and Industrial Development Limited (Incorporated in Virgin Island) and its Nigerian affiliate, P&ID Nigeria Ltd in the country.

The order of forfeiture was made following the conviction of the firms on an 11-count charge bordering on economic sabotage, money laundering, tax evasion amongst others proffered against them by the federal government.

The court equally issued an order winding up the activities of the two companies in Nigeria after finding them guilty.

P&ID Ltd, the parent company incorporated in the British Virgin Island was represented by its Commercial Director, Mohammad Kuchazi, while P&ID Nigeria Limited was represented by Adamu Usman.

The defendants pleaded guilty to all the charges filed against them and the court consequently convicted them based on their plea of guilt.

After their conviction, counsel to the first defendant, Dandison Akurunwa, prayed the court to consider the cooperation showed by the first defendant in not wasting the time of the court and for admitting guilt in the charge.

Similarly, the second defendant, whose representative stood for himself, aligned himself with the submission of counsel to the first defendant.

However, prosecution counsel, Bala Sanga urged the court to deliver its sentencing in line with the provision of the Money Laundering Act which stipulates the winding up of the firm as well as forfeiture of all their assets to the federal government.

The trial Judge, accordingly made an order winding up the two firms as well as forfeiture of their assets to the federal government.

After the defendants pleaded guilty to the 11 counts, an EFCC investigator, Usman Babangida, was called to the witness box for review of facts which was not opposed by the defence.
In the course of the exercise, the Investigator tendered some documents relating to the controversial 2010 gas supply contract and EFCC’s investigation activities were tendered and admitted by the judge as exhibits without objection from the defence.
The judge then went on to pronounce the two firms represented by the two men guilty.
Although, the prosecution counsel, Sanga had commended the defendants for their forthrightness and candor, he submitted that under section 19 (2) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act and section 10(2) of the Advanced Fee Fraud, where a body is convicted under these laws, the proper order is for the winding up its affairs and forfeiture of its assets and property to the Federal government.

Earlier in their allocutus (plea for mercy), the defendants prayed the court to consider their candor and uprightness and for not wasting the time of the court in arriving at its judgment.

Counsel for P&ID, Dandison Akurunwua, urged the judge to consider “the forthrightness and candor” of his client by pleading guilty and not wasting the time of the court in the trial.

In his judgment, Justice Ekwo held that, ” I have reviewed the evidence tendered by the prosecution and the exhibits supported by PW1 A, B, C tendered before this court and I have taken note of the plea of guilt by the defendants.

“It is upon this findings that I find the 1st and 2nd defendants guilty as charged and I hereby made the following orders. The 1st defendant is convicted on count 1-10 while the 2nd defendant is convicted on count 1-11.
” I have listened to the allocutus of the defendants and I have also listened to the prosecution counsel. I will make my orders according to the dictates of the law.

“An order is made winding up the activities of the 1st and 2nd defendants in the country forthwith.

” An order is made that their properties and assets be forfeited to the Federal government of Nigeria. Having made these orders, I enter it as the judgment of this court. ” Justice Ekwo held.

Some of the charges are as follows, “That you, Processes and Industrial Developments Limited (Nigeria) being a company Incorporated in the British Virgin, Island, Process and Industrial Development (Nigeria) Ltd, Michael Quinn (deceased), Neil Hitchcock (deceased), and Brendan Cahill (at large) on or about the 11th day of January 2010 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this court with intent to defraud, conspired to obtain benefit to wit: Petroleum Product from the Federal Government of Nigeria by falsely representing to the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, that Process Development Ltd was allocated land by the Cross River state government which representation you know to be false thereby committed an offence contrary to section 8(a) and punishable under section (1) (3) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other Offences Act, 2006.

“That you, Processes and Industrial Developments Limited being a company incorporated in the British Virgin Island, Process and Industrial Developments (Nigeria) Limited, Michael Quinn (deceased), Neil Hitchcock (deceased) and Brendan Cahill (at large) on or about the 11‘” of January, 2010 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired with certain officials of Nigerian Government to commit felony to wit: dealing in Petroleum Product without appropriate licence and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under section 1(17) of the same Act.

“That you, Process and Industrial Development Limited, being a company Incorporated in the British Virgin Island, Process and Industrial Developments (Nigeria) Limited, Michael Quinn (deceased), Neil Hitchcock (deceased) and Brendan Cahill (at large) between January, 2010 and March 2013 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court attempted to deal in Petroleum product without appropriate licence and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 1(19) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under section 1(17) of the same Act.

“That you, Process and Industrial Developments Limited being a company incorporated in the British Virgin Island, Process and Industrial Developments (Nigeria) Limited, Michael Quinn (deceased), Neil Hitchcock (deceased) and Brendan Cahill (at large) on or about the 11‘” day of January, 2010 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court influenced the award of Gas Supply and Processing Contract to Process and Industrial Developments Limited incorporated in the British Virgin Island when you falsely claimed that Processes and Industrial Developments Limited incorporated in the British Virgin Island was already allocated land by the Cross River State Government and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 58 (4) of the Public Procurement Act 2007 and punishable under section 58(6) of the same Act.

In count seven, they were accused of between August 2006 and December 2006 concealed the unlawful origin of the sum of N1, 856, 503.50 through the Guaranty Trust Bank Plc Account No: 3223250230110 operated by Process and Industrial Developments (Nigeria) Limited, when you reasonably ought to have known that the said fund formed part of the proceed of your unlawful act to wit: Tax Evasion and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(2)(a) and punishable under section 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended by Act No: 1 of 2012.

In count eight, the prosecution accused the defendants of concealing the sum of N3, 923, 237.65 and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(2)(a) and punishable under section 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended by Act No: 1 of 2012.

In count nine the defendants were said to have concealed the sum of N2, 290, 472.50 you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(2)(a) and punishable under section 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended by Act No: 1 of 2012, while in count 10, the defendants were accused of concealing the sum of N1, 414, 955.50, thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(2)(a) and punishable under section 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended by Act No: 1 of 2012.

Recall that a British Commercial Court had on August 16 awarded judgment in the sum of $9.6bn against Nigeria over a failed contract between P &ID and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in 2010.

The British court had in the judgment gave approval to P&ID to seize Nigeria’s foreign assets to the tune of $9.6billion as judgment debt in its favour.

But the federal government on its part have maintained that the entire Gas Supply and Processing Agreement signed between Nigeria’s Ministry of Petroleum and P&ID in 2010 was deliberately skewered to fail so as to benefit a syndicate that was out to extort Nigeria of its resources.

P&ID had in 2012 instituted the legal battle against Nigeria in the Court of Arbitration in the UK in 2012, following Nigeria’s refusal to carry on with the GSPA agreement entered with the firm in 2010.

By the terms of the agreement, P&ID was to build and operate an accelerated gas development project at Adiabo in Odukpani Local Government Area (LGA) of Cross River State.

The agreement required the federal government to supply natural gas from Addax Petroleum-operated Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) 123 and 67 for P&ID to refine into fuel suitable for power generation in the country.

According to the terms, the initial volume of gas was about 150 million cubic feet of gas per day, which would be ramped up to about 400 million cubic feet per day during the 20-year period.

P&ID alleged that after signing the agreement, the federal government reneged on its obligation after it had opened negotiations with the Cross River State Government for allocation of land for the project.

P&ID claimed that the failure of the federal government to construct the pipeline system to supply the gas frustrated the construction of the gas project and deprived it the potential benefits expected from 20 years’ worth of supplies.

Source: Tribuneonlineng.com

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